Confusing words

Prohibit and forbid: what’s the difference?

Prohibit and forbid: what’s the difference?

Prohibit and forbid: the same meaning, but . . . Prohibit and forbid have the same meaning, but we use them differently. Examples Children are forbidden to chew gum at school. The dissident was forbidden to leave China. Prisoners are prohibited from smoking in their cells. The restaurant is prohibited from selling or serving alcoholic beverages to customers for one month. From + -ing Don’t forget ... »

Forget something, leave something

Forget something, leave something

Forget or leave something? We use forget to say we accidentally left something behind. We usually say leave if we mention the place. Oh no! I’ve forgotten my book. Oh no! I’ve left my book at school. Nice and simple, eh? Photo: m01229 »

Fell or felt?

Fell or felt?

Fell and felt are past simple forms of two different verbs. They are often confused because they sound (and look) very similar. Fell is the past simple form of fall. fall ⇒ fell ⇒ fallen Here are some examples: All the fruit fell from the tree during the strong winds. He slipped from the roof and fell three metres to the ground. Paul and Jemma fell in love at first sight. Michael fell off his bicy... »

Confusing words: forget, leave

Confusing words: forget, leave

We use forget something and leave something differently. Here are the important differences that English learners need to know: Forget something We use forget something to say that we accidentally left something behind. We don’t say where. I’ve forgotten my phone – I’ll have to go back home for it. He got wet because he forgot his waterproof jacket. Leave something We use l... »

Confusing words: high vs. tall

Confusing words: high vs. tall

We use tall to say that something is above average height. High means ‘having a large distance from top to bottom’ or ‘a long way above the ground’. We often use high when we speak about inanimate things (non-living things). If you’re not sure whether the adjective you need is high or tall, try thinking about the overall size of the object: We use tall mainly for thin... »

Confusing words: rubbish, trash, garbage

Confusing words: rubbish, trash, garbage

In this post I’m going to talk rubbish. Does that mean I’ll be talking nonsense? No, actually I’m going to look at vocabulary connected to rubbish in the sense of household waste, including synonyms and related words. So, rubbish is the stuff that we throw out of our homes. You may also have heard other words for the same thing: garbage, refuse, trash, litter, as well as words li... »

Confusing words: near, close

When used in the sense of ‘not far’ or ‘a short distance away’, the adjectives near and close have the same meaning and are interchangeable. We can say: His house is very close. ✓ or His house is very near. ✓  Where’s the nearest shop? ✓ or Where’s the closest shop?  ✓ Which town is nearer? ✓  or Which town is closer? Be careful of exceptions (as usual)! There a... »

Confusing words: they’re, their, there

English learners often have a problem with they’re, their and there because these words have the same pronunciation despite having different spellings and meanings. We call words like this homophones. Here are some typical mistakes with they’re, their and there: I saw there daughter yesterday. I saw their daughter yesterday. ✓ The children were ill last week but their fine now. They... »

Confusing words: wrong, wrongly, wrongfully

As dictionaries tell us, the word wrong means ‘incorrect’. There’s nothing difficult or confusing about that, is there? Well, providing wrong is an adjective there isn’t (the wrong day, the wrong number, etc.). The trouble starts when we use wrong as an adverb and people start saying that it should be wrongly because adverbs always end in -ly. That’s true with many ad... »

Confusing words: passed, past

Passed and past are confusing words because they are homophones (they sound the same but have different meanings). Here’s the difference: Passed is the past form of the verb pass. It means ‘go by something or near it without stopping’: Jim passed me without saying hello. (He didn’t stop.) We passed Big Ben on our boat trip down the Thames. (We saw Big Ben but didn’t s... »

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